The Indian Space Agency – ISRO has fostered the space ecosystem by opening avenues and opportunities for private players in the sector. The outcome is, NewSpace India Limited (NSIL), a public sector enterprise (CPSE) under the Department of Space, has earned a Foreign Exchange revenue of about 35 Million US Dollars and 10 Million Euros during the last three years (2019-2021), by launching satellites of various private and international agencies.
Foreign Satellites Launched by ISRO
Union Minister for Science & Technology, Dr Jitendra Singh, in a written reply to a question in the Lok Sabha, stated that NSIL has already launched 45 international customer satellites onboard ISRO’s PSLV during the last three years and has secured 4 Dedicated Launch service contracts for foreign satellite customers.
The minister further stated that with the emergence of Global Broadband communication needs, NSIL is geared to launch several of these foreign satellites onboard ISRO’s SSLV, PSLV, and GSLV-MkIII. Through launching foreign satellites, NSIL is ensuring a better footprint of ISRO’s expertise in building earth observation and communication satellites, providing launch and mission
India has led an incredible journey of launching a total of 343 foreign satellites belonging to 36 countries as of 14th February 2022, since 1975. Of this number, 39 are commercial satellites and the rest are nano-satellites.
Tracing the journey of Foreign launches
It is indeed a journey to witness! The memory of transporting and assembling rockets and payloads on bicycles and bullock carts is still vivid in the minds of Indians. Coming this far, ISRO has established a mark globally in the space sector by launching a total of 129 satellites of Indian origin. India’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV), is the protagonist behind providing launch service to international customers. The first such commercial service dates back to 26th May 1999, when KITSAT-3 of the Republic of Korea was launched onboard PSLV-C2 and DLR-TUBSAT of Germany along with India’s IRS-P4 (OCEANSAT).
India holds a record of launching 104 satellites on a single rocket (PSLV-C37). This happened on 15th February 2017, when among the 104 satellites, 101 co-passengers were international customers, namely the USA (96), the Netherlands (1), Switzerland (1), Israel (1), Kazakhstan (1), and the UAE (1). The previous record was held by Russia of launched 37 satellites in 2014.
It is worth mentioning that, in 2017, ISRO’s PSLV launched as many as 130 foreign satellites, the most in a year, followed by 2018 (60) and 2019 (50).
IN-SPACe: A space tech initiative
Union Minister Dr Jitendra Singh further in his written reply stated that in order to foster a space ecosystem, the government has opened up the space sector for private players with the announcement of space sector reforms and the formation of IN-SPACe.
IN-SPACe (Indian National Space Promotion and Authorization Centre), is an independent body under the Department of Space that regulates and promotes space sector activities. There are 48 applications received to IN-SPACe for undertaking space activities and their applications are being processed for further action. Out of these, the applications with respect to authorizing the space activities to Non-Government Private Entities (NGPEs) are 16 and sharing of technology and facilities of DoS to NGPEs are 23 and Consultancy & Promotion are 9.